dismantling the minneapolis police department

Over the past 4 years, I’ve studied community perceptions of the Minneapolis Police Department. With a team of students, we conducted qualitative interviews with over 100 residents and 20 leaders of police reform/transformation/abolition groups; tracked reform efforts by the MPD; and attended city council hearings, vigils, and community listening sessions. We learned that many in Minneapolis agreed that racialized police violence was a dire social problem, but disagreed on its solution (and whether policing could ever be reformed). Some citizens and groups fought for reform through bureaucratic channels, while others pushed for police abolition or transformation.

As readers are well aware, these questions about reform vs. abolition recently became a national conversation. Following the murder of George Floyd by four now-former MPD officers on May 25, 2020, and the explosion of protests locally (and nationally and internationally), many have looked to Minneapolis to see how this conversation might produce real change.

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Faculty: Should you have an advising expectations document? (Probably?)

One of the benefits of sabbatical is finally dusting off to-do tasks that have withered on the list from neglect. For me, today one such task was (finally!) looking at this Advising Expectations and Guidelines from @dandanar and updating it for my students (grad advisees + undergraduates working on research). I don’t think anything in this document will surprise my current students, but I’m hoping laying it out on paper (and making it available online) will help smooth the process of establishing new advising relationships in the future. My primary goal with this document was to encourage students to ask for assistance from faculty–especially on reading work-in-progress. But it is also meant to facilitate that ask so it is as easy as possible for me to say yes.

I’m posting the work-in-progress document here to start the conversation. Faculty: Do you have such a document? Why or why not? What do you include in yours? Students: Are these helpful? Why or why not?

And for more excellent advice on things like being a good advisee, forming your committee, and reviewing work kindly follow the links! (h/t to @olderwoman for the suggestions on Twitter).

legal estrangement and police reform in minneapolis

The following is a co-authored post by Michelle Phelps, Amber Joy Powell, and Christopher Robertson.

Since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, in 2014, the topic of police violence and police reform has been at the forefront of the debate about the future of criminal justice in the U.S. Questions about policing have peppered the recent Democratic debates and have featured prominently in some of their policy plans. This week, several candidates met with a group of men and women who were formerly incarcerated to discuss criminal justice reform.

Yet often missing in the public conversation about police reform are the voices of community members most heavily impacted. While some of these residents get involved in community organizing, through #BlackLivesMatter chapters and other groups, many never have their opinions on police reform heard.

During 2017-2019, our research team traced the process of police reform through the eyes of the local police (Minneapolis Police Department), professionals and activists involved in reform, and residents in North Minneapolis, the residential community in our city most impacted by high rates of poverty, racial segregation, street crime, and police contact.

In this post, we provide some preliminary results from our interviews with residents in North Minneapolis. We conducted over 120 interviews, collecting survey responses about attitudes toward the police and in-depth qualitative accounts of their experiences with police and attitudes about police, policing advocacy groups, and police reform.

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